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Iraq - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The Iraq - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation.


Executive summary

The main story of telecommunications in Iraq continues to be mobile. Before the Iraq war of 2003 mobile telecoms did not exist in most of Iraq outside the Kurdish areas. In the five years since the launch of services in 2004, subscriber numbers have exploded to reach penetration levels higher than in neighbouring Syria or in Lebanon, at over 60%.

Three operators share the market but Zain of Kuwait’s subsidiary Zain Iraq has much the largest market share, with well over 50% of the market. Asiacell, which has Qtel of Qatar as a major shareholder, has just over a third of the market. Two small operators based in the Kurdish part of Iraq have the remainder, one of which, Korek, has a national licence but has yet to extend its reach much beyond the region.

Part of the reason for the booming mobile sector is the lack of any significant fixed-line market, with infrastructure almost non-existent outside of Baghdad. Fixed-line penetration levels are less than 5%. There is also a great lack of fibre-optic backbone infrastructure, both nationally and for international connections.

Several Wireless Local Loop licences have been awarded and operators have launched services using CDMA networks but they have not as yet made much impact.

Inevitably these factors have led to very low levels of Internet subscribers. There are no reliable statistics for the numbers of Internet users. Most users access the Internet at Internet cafes with satellite connections. With better backbone infrastructure mobile Internet services could probably be successful but as yet 3G/HSPA services are not available.

Uncertainties exist in the regulatory situation with several disputes existing between the Ministry of Communications and the mobile operators. The Ministry has claimed it is owed large sums by the operators and has also fined them substantial amounts for non-fulfilment of service conditions in their contracts. The operators in turn have complained about the lack of consultation on a draft new Communications Law and also that they are being unfairly blamed for the high cost of fixed to mobile calls.

Despite inevitable problems, the telecoms sector is one of the big success stories of post-war Iraq. With a more settled security situation and better regulation and a liberalised market, the much-needed investment and development will surely follow.

  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics Iraq - 2010
    • Table Telephone network statistics - 2009
    • Table Internet user statistics - 2009
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2009
    • Table National telecommunications authorities
    • COUNTRY OVERVIEW
      • Table GDP growth and inflation - 2005 - 2011
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • OVERVIEW OF IRAQ'S TELECOM MARKET
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • BACKGROUND
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION IN IRAQ
      • Wireless Local Loop licences
  • FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS IN IRAQ
    • IRAQI TELEPHONE AND POSTAL COMPANY (ITPC)
    • WIRELESS LOCAL LOOP OPERATORS
      • Itisaluna Abr Al Iraq
      • Kalimat Telecom
      • Hi Link Telecom
      • Omnnea
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL TELEPHONE NETWORK
      • Table Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1990 - 2011
      • Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
      • Northern Iraq
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Submarine cable networks
      • Satellite networks
  • BROADBAND ACCESS MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Internet statistics
        • Table Internet user and subscriber estimates - 2001 - 2011
    • BROADBAND AND INTERNET SUBSCRIBER FORECASTS
    • WIRELESS BROADBAND
      • Internet via satellite
  • DIGITAL ECONOMY/DIGITAL MEDIA
    • OVERVIEW
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW OF IRAQ'S MOBILE MARKET
      • Mobile statistics
        • Table Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2003 - 2011
        • Table Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - 2009
        • Table Mobile operator market shares - 2004 - 2009
      • Average revenue per user (ARPU)
        • Table Major mobile operators ARPU - 2004 - 2010
    • MOBILE SUBSCRIBER FORECASTS
      • Scenario 1 - higher growth
        • Table Forecast mobile penetration in Iraq - higher growth scenario - 2014; 2019
      • Scenario 2 - lower growth
        • Table Forecast mobile penetration in Iraq - lower growth scenario - 2014; 2019
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Temporary mobile licences awarded in 2003
      • Permanent licences awarded in 2007
      • Penalty fines and debts
      • Fourth mobile licence
    • MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Asiacell Communications
        • Table Asiacell Revenue and subscribers - 2006 - 2010
      • Zain Iraq (formerly MTC Atheer)
        • Table Zain Iraq: Revenue, net income and subscribers - 2006 - 2009
      • Korek Telecom
      • Orascom Telecom Iraq Corporation/Iraqna
      • Sanatel
    • MOBILE VOICE SERVICES
      • Prepaid
        • Table Zain Iraq prepaid subscribers - 2006 - 2009
      • Satellite mobile
    • MOBILE MESSAAGING
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Mobile TV

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